A Teacher’s Wish for Joy, Not Depression

My friend Kipp Dawson in Pittsburgh sent me this Facebook posting by a teacher who calls himself Les LBL, but from context I assume is Les Williams, a middle-school teacher.

Unfortunately, there are far too many of us who can’t recognize the depression many of us suffer in. The expectations, stress, and demands are far worse than I ever imagined. At the level I teach (middle school), the expectation and pressure that you’re held to control the behavior of some students who obviously and sometimes not so obviously have social, emotional and mental and family challenges that make classroom learning a far-off secondary priority are at its highest with the least bit of support.

Everywhere I have taught I have found great and inspirational educators and great students who want to learn. Unfortunately, due to the shifting of challenges once shared by teachers, students, parents, and adminstrators, that has now fallen squarely on the shoulders of teachers, it makes the day to day struggle difficult and the future seem bleak, and many of us who are upbeat, charismatic, passionate, fun-loving, inspired and hopeful people have slowly changed into shell-shocked, beaten-down, tired humans who are soul-searching and trying to find a glimmer of hope at the end of a vaguely colored rainbow.

I still love teaching but the way it’s structured today, it certainly isn’t as fun as it used to be, and the more creative and passionate one is about learning and teaching truths, the more you are under attack and scrutinized in your profession.

Teaching shouldn’t be so combative between adults. Kids, I understand, lol, but between adults? Please. Definitely not only does each student and teacher deserve better but all of my family deserves better.

At the end of the day my wife Nikia N Williams just wants her best friend and husband to share quality time and be by her side each night, and my children just want their goofy dad who inspires, encourages, laughs with them and listens to them each day I come home. Too many days they get an exhausted, saddened but hopeful, loving father who wonders if their school days could be as uninspiring and negative as some of my daily experiences are. It’s really unfair to all parties.

My wife hates hearing about most of my school experiences because so many are negative or have a negative impact on my career and subsequently our immediate and future financial health. My wife has to delicately balance my children’s experiences with listening to mine and try to manage to stay positive herself- a tough chore in this social and political climate.

Many teachers are depressed not only with their own current situations but with the doomsday direction our education system is headed through. To me, I am a revolutionary so I’ll keep fighting but that doesn’t make it any easier. I wish many of my friends would not so much as say, “I gotta give it to you, I couldn’t do that,” or “these parents and kids today . . .” and instead say, “oh, now I understand how all of this is connected to all of our presents and futures, how can I help?” I’d say become more informed and become active because even if you have no children, today’s students still are tomorrow’s future.

My resolutions are to still try to find that line which allow me to leave a lot of stress and negativity at work day’s end and bring home only smiles, listening ears, hugs, positivity, laughs, loving support and quality time to my family. Thanks.

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